What to Wear Over a Cocktail Dress (Coats and Wraps)

Continuing our little series on outerwear, today I thought we’d talk about what to wear over a cocktail dress. I’ve had some questions about this, and I figured this is a good time to address the topic since we’re heading into events season. Fall weddings are a big thing, of course, and soon we’ll be attending holiday parties! (I know, it’s hard to believe.)

What to Wear with a Cocktail Dress: 5 Coats and Wraps for your Winter Party Dress

For this post, I’m going to be addressing coats and wraps that you intend to take off at your event. Toppers to wear with a cocktail dress are a whole different topic because they really have to go with the dress you’re wearing. Coats/jackets/wraps that you will remove when you get to your event give you a little more leeway, but you still want to look appropriate for the formality of the event. Throwing your casual parka on over an evening dress simply won’t do, even if you do plan to remove it as soon as you walk in the door.

Here are some good options:

#1. Wool Dress Coat

This type of coat will probably work over just about anything, with the exception of a floor-length ball gown. The nice thing about these coats is you can also wear them for other events — church, work, dinner out, or whenever you want a polished, dressed-up coat that isn’t formal. They’re obviously better for colder climates; if you live further south, you may not need a coat this warm. In that case, a dressy trench coat could work.

Ideally the coat would be in a more formal color (black, grey, burgundy, or winter white — for some reason camel doesn’t seem to do it for me) but don’t rule out a fun color. Red is festive for the holidays. I like the more feminine coats with a fitted silhouette, but the cocoon coats are trending and can work too.

#2. Cape/Shawl

These are fun and a little more dressy than a regular wool coat, but you can wear them for other occasions as well. You could totally wear one out to dinner with jeans and heels for a fun juxtaposition.

Unfortunately there are very few under $500. I KNOW. Most are like $1500, no joke — even at Macy’s. It’s a bummer because I like this idea a lot. Feel free to look around for more reasonable price tags, and let us know if you find anything good.

#3. Faux Fur Shrug or Bolero

If you’re attending a more formal event, a fur or faux fur bolero is sophisticated and elegant. If you attend a few semi-formal events a year, it might be worth in investing in one. I wouldn’t buy one for a one-time occasion unless it was super important to me.

#4. Leather Jacket

Pistola Isabel Faux Leather Moto Jacket

Don’t rule out a leather jacket; I saw a ton of these at the last cocktail party I attended. Granted, it was a fashion blogger conference, but if you want something fashion forward, throw a leather jacket on over your cocktail dress. You can see an example of that look HERE.

#5. Blazer/Bomber Jacket

Okay so I said I was mainly addressing outerwear, and I’ve gone more into outfit accessories. There are only so many types of coats, ya know? Any-who. A blazer can look too businessy, but if you get one that is velvet or satiny or something with sequins, it can be smashing over a party dress. Of course, it has to work with the dress.

I feel like I’m missing something here. There’s always a pashmina, but again, that’s something I see as accessorizing the dress. Any other ideas? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

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37 Responses

  1. I have such a struggle with this because formal dresses are usually sleeveless. Which means I’m freezing and I need some kind of jacket or wrap for the inside. And then to find a coat to put on top of that???
    I do think capes can be great because you don’t have to worry about fit as much—but I didn’t realize some were so expensive. My mom could make me one for a fraction of that!!

  2. I love this post – great information. I would like to see one about what to wear over a cocktail or evening gown inside. So many of them are sleeveless and I’m one of those who doesn’t like to really show her shoulders. I’ve used the pashmina but struggle with keeping it in place. So any other ideas that maybe don’t have to be messed with so much would be great. A few entire outfits would be fun to look at too.

    Sorry to hear you’re not recovering as quickly as you hoped and I hope the oral surgeon can get that looked at and fixed right away. I’ll continue praying for you and I hope you have a restful recovery weekend and are rearing to go on Monday! 😉

  3. First and foremost, I am so sorry you are in so much pain, and think you have a dry socket.  That is no fun!  I will say an extra prayer for you!
    Very informative post, once again.

    Take care!????????

  4. Ok……now I want a cape so bad! ????
    Praying that you are strong and pain free right away. Hope your day is filled with little “pick me ups” to help you feel encouraged…. Your blog does that for me so often!

  5. I’ll read your post later but just wanted to comment now about your dry socket. Yes…..get right in if you even think you have one.  So sorry.  I know you’ve had that before, so know what it can lead to.  Rest up and prayers for quick healing.  

  6. This post is so helpful. It’s a keeper for sure! Lots of pretty options.
    I invested in a winter white wool coat when I was still working, and had more cocktail parties and events to attend. That coat still looks good. A dress coat in a classic style and neutral color can last a long time.

  7. So sorry to hear that you’re still hurting. I hope you feel better soon. 
    This is a good roundup of outer wear for dressy occasions. I have options in my closet to cover any event that comes up.
    I would like a tuxedo that is feminine that I can wear with heels and statement earrings. It would be a nice change from a dress. Like you, we have cold winters and I hate being cold. Do you have any ideas? 

  8. Feel better! Praying for you???? I always go for the shawl look, but I live in the South. My daughter has a very cute fur wrap that she wore in a wedding, super cute 

  9. Jolynne, could you do a post about nylons and dresses? It’s easy to forego nylons with dresses in the summer months, but what helps to keep legs warm in the winter months if you have to wear a dress? I usually wear knee high boots with dresses in the winter, but I was wondering if there is something else out there that is stylish and fashionable (other than boots) for those of us that have to wear dresses in the winter? Thanks!!!

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